The Middle East Crisis, Part II: An Election, An Uprising and the Flight of the CIA U-2.

Posted by on July 10, 2008

As outlined in Part One of our series on the Middle Eastern Crisis of 1956, the assumption of many today is the nostalgia of the past, especially of the 1950’s as a tranquil peaceful time of rock-n-roll, good times and the rise of suburbia.However, the truth is quite different.When we last left the stage, the Egyptians, under the leadership of Nasser, had just nationalized the Suez Canal and the world was on the brink of war!

Yet other events were taking place at the same time, events that would impact the canal situation….

The Soviet occupation of much of Eastern Europe briefly shook people up as they struggled to contain the people’s wishes for freedom. In particular, Budapest was a flash point!


Time magazine had this to say about the crisis in Budapest:

“…Beneath three days of fog that sifted lightly across the Danube, the Communist satellite capital of Budapest (pop. 1,750,000) rang to the classic shouts of “Freedom of Speech!” “Freedom of Religion!” The answer, audible from the Baltic to the South China Sea, was the machine-gun fire of Communist T-54 tanks….”(2)

Here in the United States, the impending explosion of the Suez situation was trying the current administration under Eisenhower.  Embroiled in a presidential election year, Eisenhower soon began juggling both events at the same time.  Information became of the utmost importance and as a result, Operation Paramount was launched.  Under the control of the CIA, overflights of the Suez and surrounding areas by the U-2 spy plane began to occur…..(3)

This plane was also like the one that would be involved in the incident with Gary Powers a few years later.


(Next up: Britain and France and the Invasion of Egypt!)  Stay tuned!!!


(1) Wikimedia: author: The American Hungarian Federation (expired domain as of 7/10/08)

(2) Time Magazine, Nov. 5th, 1956 (link points to archive)

(3) Source: The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1954-1974, (pg. 113-114)

(4) NASA

Comments are closed.